Frank Bender dies

Frank Bender, a forensic sculptor, died a few days ago. I was not surprised, as he had been sick for some time and doctors had expected him to die over a year ago. He was 70 years old.

Bender created a number of awesome busts of identified people over the years, as well as busts of mummies, historical figures, etc. In the world of American crime he’s most noted for the bust he did of fugitive family-murderer John List. By the time Bender got involved, List had been on the run for 18 years. But Bender created an age-progressed bust that was a dead ringer for List, and this played a significant role in his capture. I saw the bust when I visited the Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C. in 2009.

Bender also sculpted a bust of the so-called Boy in the Bag, a four-year-old murder victim from Philadelphia who remained unidentified for 13 years, some of the murdered women from Ciudad Juarez (his busts were able to identify three of them).

He had a wonderful talent and will be sorely missed.

Th Philadelphia Daily News
The New York Times
The Bend Bulletin

6 thoughts on “Frank Bender dies

  1. Saffy July 31, 2011 / 6:59 pm

    I had wondered about him recently because I knew he’d been ill. He was a great talent and his contributions will live after him.
    Is there any more news about the parents in “The boy in the bag”? I read some articles that said Alicia Robinson took a plea and her boyfriend was due to stand trial in 2010, but nothing about his trial or verdict.

  2. Lisa August 1, 2011 / 12:33 am

    Didn’t he also do the bust of the “Boulder Jane Doe”? who was finally identified as Dorothy Gay Howard?

  3. Kevin August 3, 2011 / 2:55 am

    Frank Bender was very talented at those reconstructions. They had a segment for him on AMW around 6 months ago as a tribute to him and mentioned that he didn’t have very long to live.

    As an interesting side note about the John List case, after he killed his whole family the investigators went back to the family home and were looking at what was in the house. John, being the moron that he was, didn’t realize that he had a highly collectible Tiffany Chandelier hanging above the dining room. It was estimated at over 250k back then. All he did in those letters he left behind was complain about his finances and how it was best that he did this to his family because of that. What a dipshit.

    • Meaghan August 3, 2011 / 2:34 pm

      Yeah, I heard about the Tiffany thing. Except I thought it was a skylight or something.

      Normal, sane people do not kill their families just because they are going bankrupt. John List had some serious problems long before the family annihilation. I’ve read books about mass murderers and learned that nobody just “snaps” like that and there were indications of something badly wrong before the murders. Like, in the Virginia Tech shooting, when they heard there was a shooting quite a few people immediately said, “It’s Seung-Hui Cho, isn’t it?”

  4. Jaime August 3, 2011 / 7:38 am

    He also did a bust of the little boy that was found in North Carolina in 1998.

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